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First Drive: Amp Equinox

(Battery) Power to the people.

by on Sep.15, 2010

Ohio start-up Amp is marketing an electric version of the Chevrolet Equinox.

The 2011 model-year is going to be a big one for those betting on electric propulsion.  We’ll see the launch of several critical products from major automakers like Nissan and Chevrolet, with the Leaf battery-electric vehicle and the Volt plug-in, respectively.  And other major automakers, such as Ford and Toyota will charge into the electric market soon afterwards.

Yet, the industry’s big guns are actually late to plug into the emerging electric niche.  By the time Volt and Leaf reach showrooms California start-up Tesla’s little Roadster, an electric sports car, will have been on sale nearly two years.  And the market is filled with offerings from other small players, such as Think and Bright Automotive, who hope they can use this paradigm shift in propulsion to get a shot at the major leagues.

Some of these new players are starting from scratch, with ground-up offerings, like the upcoming Tesla Model-S sedan.  But Ohio-based Amp is taking quite a different approach.  The maker is taking existing products, such as the Saturn Sky and Chevrolet Equinox, stripping out their gasoline-driven powertrains, and replacing them with electric drivelines.

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We recently got the chance to take the Amp Equinox out for a drive and while the prototype had a few bugs we found it a reasonably pleasant experience.  Better yet, it offers to provide a roomy alternative to pint-sized offerings like Nissan’s Leaf, which are likely to dominate the electric vehicle market for some time to come.

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